‘Poor’ author Katriona O’Sullivan joined the appeal, telling National Principal’s Conference to ‘expect achievement’ of all students.
Principals and Deputy Principals from Ireland’s Education & Training Boards (ETBs) have called for an increase in the allocation of Deputy Principals in ETB post primary schools with DEIS designation, at their national conference this week. Over 300 delegates were joined by Dr Katriona O’Sullivan, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Science in Maynooth University, and bestselling author of ‘Poor’, who challenged them to expect and support excellence from all their students. “Education is all about relationships”, Dr O’Sullivan told the ETB Principals and Deputy Principals who gathered in Portlaoise, “and relationships require time and space. The allocation of more Deputy Principals can transform a school, freeing up school leaders to support students and teachers develop relationships where talent can shine.”
Paddy Lavelle, General Secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland agrees: “ETBs have the highest proportion of DEIS post-primary schools in the country, 129 in total, and their young people need and deserve adequate supports. The Deputy Principal role is a crucial one: the high administrative burden placed on Principals means the Deputy Principal is, typically, the staff-member available to identify challenges or risks for the student body or individual students; to provide support to students experiencing difficulties; to keep a watching eye on at-risk students and to liaise with other support services to ensure all students get the care and attention they need.” “We are appealing to the Department to increase the allocation by between .5 and 1 Deputy Principal per school, depending on its size and believe this will make a significant impact on outcomes for our learners, some of whom are the most vulnerable young people in Irish society. From the feedback we’ve received from our Principals, this increase will help relieve the administrative burden and free them up for a greater focus on Teaching and Learning, providing increased support for student support and wellbeing, and professional support for their teachers.
This year’s ETBI Principals and Deputy Principals Conference was also addressed by Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children and Prof Selina McCoy, Associate Research Professor ESRI. Delegates also attended workshops on meeting the challenges of vaping, ‘hidden bullying’ and the new Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum.